I recently went to a lecture on Islamophobia by Dr. Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, and it utterly awoke my mind.
Not only was my own knowledge as a Muslim woman challenged, but so were many global philosophies.
Let’s face it, we’ve seen it everywhere since 9/11: in the media, among institutional rules, locally and personally around us, and in our own heads sadly. Islamophobia or “anti-Islamic racism” (corrected by al-Maktabi on the Salaam website) is actively enabled by a western concept of war and power that is driven by the simple narrative of good vs. evil, and this aggressively impacts the lives of many Muslims, particularly those living in the West.
Evidently a war can only be justified when there’s an enemy.
Umm… hello?? Doesn’t this reek of colonial rationale?? It’s rather like extreme nationalism; perpetuating an idea that there is us and then there’s them, the ‘other’, those that must be saved, organized, controlled, feared and civilized.
“Are you proud to be an American?”
“Yes I am! I will defend my country”.
Defend your country?! You link your patriotic identity to military ideologies?? And here I thought we’d moved forward from the stupidity of racial-cultural superiority. Oh the bliss and downfall of ignorance.
Honestly though, it’s not a blame game. I’m not blaming one group over another. I think racism, politics, the economic market and historical ideologies are only a few among many columns that support the constructs of Islamophobia. Unfortunately it is further sustained by responses from both sides, the West and Islam, that reflect complexities beyond the general public awareness.
What’s my point? Figure it out, literally. Educate yourself! Grab knowledge by the horns and inform the uninformed. If you’re a Muslim practice tolerance and patience with those who are unaware, and make sure you know your shit so you can speak with confidence and articulation.
Dr. Asani finished by saying: “Religious illiteracy has helped foster a climate that is both dangerous and intellectually debilitating”.
Just because you’re not religious, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the ability to understand difference. The world is made of difference.